Bats Are Even Stranger Than You Think

While a few mammal species can glide through the air using a skin flap between their limbs, bats are the only mammals in the Earth's history who can actually fly. 

Even in the prehistoric era, we have no evidence of other flying mammals ever existing (note: birds are NOT considered mammals). 

In today’s post, we’ll be sharing some unique facts about bats and their history on Earth. 

Watch the fascinating video version of this post by clicking HERE! 

You can also download the audio-only podcast by clicking the download button above. 

The Ancient History of Bats 

The evolutionary history of bats is still unclear, and their fossil record is sparse. 

Since they lived in dense forests, and their bones can be as thin as a human hair, the remains of ancient bats are difficult to find. 

However, scientists believe that bats evolved wings from their gliding ancestors. 

Ancient bats had leg structures that suggested they scampered through trees and leapt through branch to branch, before developing flight. 

Bat Wings vs. Bird Wings: What’s the Difference? 

In addition to being the only flying mammal, in many cases, bats are better flyers than birds! 

Did you know that bats can reach up to 100 miles per hour (160 km/h) while flying? 

Bats’ advanced speed is due to the way their wings evolved. Bat wings are notably different than bird wings in their bone structure. 

Birds flap their entire limbs, while bat wings are more like stretched out hands, where they bend their fingers to flap.

Because of the increased number of joints in bat wings, they are able to adjust their shape mid-air, allowing for more precision than birds. 

Birds developed their wings from the weaker front limbs of their upright dinosaur ancestors. However, not many mammals evolved to stand on their hind legs, so bats evolved wings in a completely different way. 

The Sheer Variety of Bat Species

Since bats spend most of their time flying and hanging upside down, their leg bones are so flimsy, only 2 species can actually walk upright: the vampire bat and the burrowing bat. 

Bat species range in size from as small as a penny (the Kitti’s hog-nosed bat, native to Thailand), to as large as a vulture (Pteropus, also known as flying foxes), with a wingspan over 6 feet. 

If you spot a bat this large flying through the sky, you might think you’re in danger… but fortunately, they eat mainly fruits and insects, like most bats. 

Even among average-sized bats that you may find in your home, bats can eat their own body weight in insects in a single hour - up to 1200 insects in total! 

For reference, that’s like a single human eating 20 whole pizzas in the same night! 

Vampire Bats: Friend or Foe? 

There aren’t many bat species who don’t feed on fruits or insects, but the most famous species is vampire bats. 

As their name implies, vampire bats survive by consuming other animals’ blood. 

Vampire bats do not suck blood through their teeth, however. Instead, they puncture their victim’s vein and lap up the blood with their tongues. 

Vampire bats can even latch onto a sleeping animal and drink its blood for half an hour without waking up the animal! 

Even so, in most countries, you are probably not at risk of a vampire bat attack. The species are only seen in Mexico, Central America, and a few countries in South America. 

Got a Pest Problem? 

While carnivorous bats aren’t a common pest, their omnivore cousins can still invade your home and carry harmful diseases, like rabies. 

Don’t put your home or property at risk of a bat infestation. 

Please contact us at 855-WILDLIFE or visit for more information. 

Thanks for reading! 
-Wildlife x Team International 

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